September 5th

Parker Orms lost for all of 2010

Red-shirt freshman nickel back Parker Orms, one of the stars of spring ball and fall camp, was expected to be one of the best players in the Buffs’ defensive backfield in 2010.

He will have to wait until 2011.

Orms tore his ACL in the first quarter of the game against Colorado State, and will be lost for the year. As Orms only played one quarter of one game, he will be eligible to apply for a medical red-shirt, and play four full years at Colorado.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Orms of his injury. “It went from the best day of my career to the worst in one second. It hurts, but we got the win, and I still have a big career ahead of me.”

Orms was on punt coverage when his injury occurred. “I played the first series, and we had to punt so I was on the punt team,” said Orms, “so I ran down and I thought I was going to make the tackle, and my knee went one way and my leg went the other.”

Orms was replaced for the most part by Travis Sandersfeld, who had an interception against the Rams. “That is what I said from the start of the year,” said Sandersfeld of his ability to step up and replace Orms. “At every position, we feel like we have depth. Even on special teams, I usually play all of them, and we felt comfortable getting (me) off and putting someone else on there.”

The Colorado secondary, considered a strength of the team, is getting short on bodies, however. Orms joins safety Vince Ewing on the lost-for-the-season list. On the depth chart, red-shirt and true freshman are listed as the primary backups.

And there are still 11 – perhaps 12 – games left to the 2010 season …

September 3rd

Finally, it’s football … and time for the Buffs to win again

It’s been a good summer for Colorado Buffalo fans.

The Buff Nation deserved a good summer – it was a dark and dismal winter.

A fourth straight losing season to digest, including memories of losses to Colorado State and Toledo. A 3-9 season, which to the surprise of many, did not result in the firing of head coach Dan Hawkins. A decent – at best – recruiting class. The DUI arrest of wide receiver Markques Simas, who had been one of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season.

Spring ball brought renewed hope. There were a few injuries, but the emphasis, thankfully, was on “few”. The Buffs spoke of renewed dedication; decrying a bad taste in their mouths they couldn’t wait to spit out. The quarterback situation remained unresolved, but the Buffs, more experienced at almost every position, seemed to be pointing in the right direction.

The summer was down right joyous. The Colorado administration, just when it appeared that the Buffs might be left out in the cold by conference expansion, landed in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 invitation was a coup which was not only welcome, but was one gained through shrewd maneuvering behind the scenes. A renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm engulfed the Buff Nation. The positive spin was only heightened with the signing of several high prospect wide receiver recruits – Travon Patterson from USC and Paul Richardson from UCLA. Fall camp increased the optimism, as Tyler Hansen was finally named the starting quarterback, the Buffs emerged with only a handful of significant injuries, and players again sounded primed and ready to take out their frustrations on the Colorado State Rams.

It’s been a slow, but steady climb back into the sunlight for the Colorado football program.

The Buffs’ rise, however, remains tenuous. It’s all talk; it’s all on paper.

The reality is that Colorado remains a program coming off of a fourth straight losing season – the second longest such drought in school history. While the preseason award lists have grown, showing an overall improvement in talent, the Buffs have yet to show anything on the field. The preseason magazines predict a bottom half finish for Colorado in the Big 12 North –  a division which is, other than Nebraska, completely devoid of top tier teams.

In 2009, 60% of the players in the Colorado two-deep roster were underclassmen, continuing a trend of the past few seasons. In 2010, however, the numbers are reversed. The two-deep roster this fall is composed of 60% upperclassmen, the highest percentage in the Hawkins’ era.

It’s time for the Buffs to stop being the younger, inexperienced, mistake-prone team.

It’s time for the Buffs to win football games.

Fearless Forecasts

Some predictions to take to the bank as Colorado takes on Colorado State in the season opener …

1) Senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight will set two school records Saturday.

McKnight, already in possession of the school record for most consecutive games with a caught ball (36), will extend that streak against Colorado State. With three receptions, McKnight will surpass Michael Westbrook as the leading pass receiver in school history. Westbrook had 167 catches in his Colorado career (1991-94); McKnight starts the 2010 season with 165.

2) Junior running back Rodney Stewart, barring a Brian Lockridge end around or Tyler Hansen scramble, will post the first rushing yards of the season.

This is hardly a stretch to predict – Speedy is the Colorado rushing attack. In the “What could have been” world of Colorado football, Darrell Scott would be the headliner Saturday, primed for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Demetrius Sumler would be inserted into the lineup to gain the tough yards on third-and-short, with Stewart, Lockridge, and Ray Polk looking for carries when the starters needed a rest (while focusing their attention on punt and kickoff returns). Instead, the Colorado rushing attack is the Rodney Stewart Show. Stewart will get the first carry of the 2010 season … Buff fans can only hope that he remains injury free, and that Stewart also has the last carry in the Buffs’ bowl game.

3) Colorado will not be ranked 117th in the nation in punt returns after the Colorado State game.

When Colorado has winning seasons, the Buffs usually have the advantage in return yards, including all returns other than kickoffs. In the Dan Hawkins’ era, the best ratio came in 2007 season, when the 6-7 Buffs had a 677-408 yard advantage on its opponents. It will come as no surprise, then, that in the 3-9 season of 2009, the numbers were awful … 631 return yards for opponents; 267 for Colorado. The infusion of speed at the punt return position, with transfers Travon Patterson and Toney Clemons taking on the duties, should show quick dividends. In 2009, Colorado State was 116th in punt return defense, giving up an average of over 15 yards per return.

September 2nd

Stats to keep in mind

It’s the season opener, and it’s a game against a rival with a long history. So naturally, there are any number of numbers to review …

Colorado is 20-1 since 1967 when scoring first in the opener. The lone exception was the 2006 debacle against Montana State, in the lost 2-10 season. Conversely, the Buffs are 4-15-1 when the opponent scores first in the opener. With two teams coming off of 3-9 seasons, this statistic may be very telling. Both teams are talking with confidence, but that confidence is likely fragile. Bad breaks early may turn the game ugly early for one of the teams. Buff fans will be hoping that their team is the first to draw blood on September 4th.

Go Speedy … Since 1983, Colorado is 6-0 against Colorado State when the Buffs have rushed for over 250 yards … At the same time, when the Colorado defense holds the Rams to under 100 yards rushing, Colorado has a record of 9-2.

Colorado returns players who have started a cumulative total of 313 career games. The last time the Buffs returned that much starting experience was in 2005 (314 starts by returning players). It is perhaps no surprise that 2005 was the last season in which Colorado posted a winning record.

Colorado is 3-1 all-time on September 4th, going 2-0 against Texas (1989; 1993), but only 1-1 against Colorado State (a loss in 1999 in Gary Barnett’s debut; an exciting 27-24 win in Boulder in 2004, as the Colorado defense held the Rams out of the endzone when J.J. Billingsley and Lorenzo Sims stopped CSU running back Tristan Walker at the three yard line as time expired).

In 2009, Colroado State was 90th or worse in eight different categories … 93rd in scoring defense; 93rd in third down conversion offense; 97th in scoring offense; 100th in pass efficiency defense; 103rd in kickoff return yardage defense; 116th in net punting; 116th in punt return yardage defense; and 120th (and last in the nation) in third down conversion defense.

The forecast for Denver on Saturday is for sunny skies and a high of 88 degrees. The warmest game in Colorado history was played on September 8, 2007, when the Buffs traveled to play Arizona State in Tempe. For that game, the temperature at kickoff was 102 degrees. The warmest temperature for a kickoff in Boulder was 91 degrees, reached in 2000 against Washington, and tied a year later against Fresno State. The warmest game against Colorado State came in Boulder, when the Buffs defeated the Rams, 31-28, under 89 degree clear skies on September 3, 2005.

September 1st

Injury list

Fortunately for Buff fans, the injury list for the Colorado State game is short.

Out for the season, as we knew, is sophomore defensive back Vince Ewing, who suffered at torn ACL during the first fall scrimmage.

Joining Ewing on the injury update is sophomore wide receiver Dustin Ebner, also injured during the first scrimmage. Ebner suffered a fractured ankle, and will be out 5-6 more weeks.

The one name that hasn’t been on the injury report for the past few weeks is that of offensive tackle Jack Harris. The red-shirt freshman will be out 5-6 weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in practice on August 17th.

Getting off to a fast start

Colorado has won 22 of its last 24 openers when the Buffs have scored first.

All time, the Buffs are 75-40-5 in season opening games. In those 75 seasons with an opening victory, Colorado has posted a winning record 60 times (or 80% of the time). When Colorado loses its opener, the Buffs have gone on to winning seasons 19 times, with 20 losing campaigns, and one even.

A simple equation: score first, you have a better chance of winning (92% chance, in the Buffs’ circumstance). Win your first game, you have a better chance at a winning season (80% v. 47%).

Just do the math, Buffs! 

August 31st

Offensive line continuity apparently not a concern

Ethan Adkins will start the game at left guard, but Mike Iltis will play in there,” Colorado offensive line coach Denver Johnson told BuffStampede.com. “And Keenan Stevens will start the game at center, but Shawn Daniels will play.” At right tackle, redshirt freshman David Bakhtiari will start, as sophomore Bryce Givens has been missing action with an ankle injury.

That leaves only senior left tackle Nate Solder and junior Ryan Miller as consistent starters.

“We are going to get them all some work and then as we go on, we’ll evaluate them in games and see if they separate themselves,” said Johnson. “But we are fortunate right now that we’ve got several guys. I don’t really see a nickel’s worth of difference in them.”

Am I the only one that sees a problem here?

What was spring ball all about? Summer conditioning and drills? Fall camp? Wasn’t it about getting the best five on the field?

“We’re going to get them all some work, and then as we go on, we’ll evaluate them in games …”???

I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and no, I have never coached college football, but for as long as I can remember, continuity along the offensive line has been the watchword. Get your best five out there, get them reps, and have them be able to learn how to work together. When the opposition defense is running a stunt, players need to know that their linemate knows where to go, and which player has the responsibility for which blitzer. Linemates get a feel for what works, formulate a rhythm, have each other’s backs (not to mention the back of the quarterback). Running backs know where the holes are going to be, having run behind the same line in practice. Quarterbacks who might be prone to take off and run (one Tyler Hansen springs to mind) need to know how long he can expect his pocket to hold.

Overall, Colorado, which had three first-year starters along the offensive line last season, can now boast a lineup with 11 upperclassmen; nine of which have seen starts in multiple games. It’s a nice problem to have – a number of linemen capable of handling Big 12 defenses.

Still, I can’t help feeling that Colorado would be better off  with five outstanding linemen capable of dominating those same defenses.

Kick returners set

Far less surprising was the announcement concerning kick returners.

Last season’s primary kickoff returner, junior Brian Lockridge (30 returns/23.3 yard average, including a 98-yard touchdown return against Oklahoma State), will be joined by the only other player to return who had more than two kickoff returns in 2009, junior Arthur Jaffee (six returns/24.0 yard average). Jaffee, who is also the back-up free safety, brings several positives to his role as Lockridge’s partner. First is his speed. Jaffee, noted special teams coach Kent Riddle, “is one of the fastest guys on the team.” The second benefit is that Jaffee is a good blocker. Three-man wedges have been out-lawed by the NCAA on kickoff returns, so having the extra blocker deep – who can also return kicks himself, is an added plus.

The primary punt returner, though not a surprise, will still be a new face. Travon Patterson, a senior transfer from USC, will be the primary punt returner, joined by junior Toney Clemons, himself a transfer (from Michigan last year).

Colorado State to start even more true freshmen

While Colorado may tear off the red-shirts of as many as five freshmen on Saturday, Colorado State may go the Buffs two better. The CSU media release indicates that the Rams may start seven true freshmen against Colorado.

One true freshman will get most of the attention, quarterback Pete Thomas. Other true freshmen on the CSU depth chart include backups at running back, fullback, defensive left end, defensive right end, weakside linebacker, and left cornerback.

Speaking of CSU defensive ends …

Colorado State is looking at potentially having two true freshmen playing at defensive end this fall, and it is not a surprise.

No fewer than three defensive ends the Rams were counting on to contribute in 2010 are out:

Sophomore Zach Tiedgen sprained a knee ligament at a pickup basketball game in May, and will miss most of the season;

Returning senior starter Cory Macon was ruled ineligible over the summer after missing the spring “battling personal issues”, according to the CSU media release; and

Sophomore C.J. James, who played as a true freshman in 2009, tore knee miniscus on the eve of fall camp, and is out indefinitely.

Kinda like Colorado’s chances at running the ball outside …? Of keeping Tyler Hansen protected …?

Maybe this is why Denver Johnson is willing to trade out offensive linemen against the Rams …?

 

August 29th

Five true freshman to lose their red-shirts against Colorado State

There are at least five true freshmen who will see action against Colorado State, taking off their red shirts.

Two are on offense – wide receiver Paul Richardson, who was a UCLA Bruin just a few short months ago; and running back Justin Torres;

Two are on defense – defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, and defensive back Jered Bell; and

One is on special team – long-snapper Ryan Iverson, who will be snapping the ball back to red-shirt freshman punter Zach Grossnickle, who will also be making his starting debut.

Goodman earns the first shot at placekicker

Senior placekicker Aric Goodman will likely be the first kicker to post points for Colorado against Colorado State. Goodman, who has gone 15-for-32 in his career at Colorado (10-for-18 last season), “kicked great (in the final scrimmage Saturday), and has been kicking good,” said Dan Hawkins. “Kicking is a little different than other positions; it’s simple math. He’s had a nice camp and has kicked well in scrimmages.”

“He’d better step up,” said starting quarterback Tyler Hansen. “He’s always been really good in practice; he needs to do it on Saturdays. That’s the biggest thing.” Sounding like the leader of the team, Hansen is putting pressure on the senior kicker. “We’re tired of it, the drive down the field and you miss a kick,” said Hansen. “It shoots down the morale of the team and you kind of lose some confidence … If he misses that first kick, I don’t know …”.

True freshman Justin Castor, who some believed had an opportunity to supplant Goodman as the primary kicker, may not even be the primary backup. Castor, according to Hawkins, has a “little edge” over junior Marcus Kirkwood. A walk-on, Kirkwood is 6’6″, and may also be used for kickoffs.

Looking for a positive sign? …

One statistic which drove Colorado coaches, players, and fans nuts in 2009 was penalties. Colorado committed 107 penalties in 2009. Only Texas Tech (120) and Arizona State (111) committed more. The Buffs were sent back, on average, over 75 yards per game, 116th in the nation in that category. For Colorado to be successful, penalties have to be dramatically reduced.

So far, so good.

Colorado announced that in three scrimmages this fall (two of which were closed to the public), Colorado ran 387 plays, but committed only six penalties – six on offense; two on defense – in all of those plays.

August 26th

Hawkins’ comments raise questions …

Really?

The Boulder Daily Camera is reporting that in a meeting earlier this summer of Colorado head coaches, Buff head coach Dan Hawkins was asked by a senior staff member if there was anything that the department could do to help his team succeed, and Hawkins replied that the school could give him a contract extension.

Seriously.

When asked about the comment on Wednesday, Hawkins confirmed that he made the statement. When asked why he chose that answer, Hawkins replied, “Just the continuity, stability.” Asked if having three years left on his contract was enough to provide continuity, Hawkins replied, “To some degree. But you’re talking to recruits and guys on your team and all that kind of stuff.”

The comment has lit a fire on the internet (choose your site, it’s the number one topic of conversation). Most posts are incredulous – How can a coach with a 16-33 overall record, nary a single winning record in four seasons of play, and a 3-9 record in 2009, even dream of making such a comment?

Let’s back up a minute.

The story (http://www.buffzone.com/ci_15896935) indicates that the meeting was earlier this summer.

Question No. 1 – Who leaked the quote, and what was their agenda? Athletic director Mike Bohn was not pleased that the quote was made public. “Speculation about coach’s tenure is always a delicate issue,” Said Bohn. “We support Dan and we will evaluate him and the football program at the end of the season, just as we do with all of our coaches.” Certainly, neither Bohn nor Hawkins had anything to gain from the leaked release of the quote. So who? And Why?

Question No. 2Why publish the story now? Yes, the Daily Camera is in the business of making money, and with the season opener next week, there is more attention being paid to the football team. And yes, it is not the job of the Camera and its reporters to make the school look good all the time. Still, it gives one pause as to what Kyle Ringo was trying to do. He could have published the story “earlier this summer”, after the meeting took place, but chose to bring Hawkins  back into focus just when Buff fans were turning their attention where it should rightfully be placed – on the players and their chances for success.

Question No. 3 – and the most important – What was Dan Hawkins thinking? Yes, you can make the argument that the Buffs, like every other team in a similar situation, is hurt in recruiting when their coach is on the “hot seat”. It’s not news to say that opposing teams will use Hawkins’ tenuous status against Colorado with prime recruits. But … Note to Dan – that wouldn’t change with a contract extension. Check out any “hot seat” listing of college football coaches on any website, and you will find Dan Hawkins in the top five, if not atop the list. It’s so clear that Dan Hawkins is in a “win or else” year that you could probably – as the old joke goes – look up “hot seat” in the dictionary, and find a picture of Dan Hawkins. No contract extension will change that reality. Putting two more years on Hawkins’ contract would not save the coach if he has another losing campaign in 2010.

My solution … Give Dan Hawkins a two-year contract extension.

You heard it right. Give Dan Hawkins two more years to lead the Buffs.

Hawkins already has over a half million dollars worth of incentives to boost his $1,461,047.oo salary. In exchange for his two-year contract extension, I would add one more stipulation:

A $0.00 buyout clause.

If Dan Hawkins is so certain that he can recruit better players with a five year contract, then let him prove it.  (As an aside, there is no concrete evidence, if recruiting services are to be believed, that Hawkins has enjoyed such a bump in highly rated players since he contract was extended in 2007 – unless you want to count Darrell Scott … didn’t think so).

“No excuses”, coach.

You want a contract extension? Fine. Here you go.

But if you bring home another losing season, you’re gone – without penalty. If the Buffs go bowling in 2010, the clause is replaced by a $1 million buyout. Winning season in 2011? Add another million.

Now that’s an incentive clause.

3 Replies to “The Colorado Daily – CSU”

  1. Does anyone know if there is a website that will be streaming in the video (not just audio) from the CSU game? I’d even be interested in a game replay.

  2. I like that extension idea. I only say that because of all of Hawk’s shortcomings, it doesn’t appear that recruiting is one of them. I think he has done a pretty good job of bringing in talent. Getting them on the field, playing at the correct position, and getting them to stay is another story.

    I thought GB was good game day coach, but his recruiting went downhill after the Houston/Ochs debacle and the pseudo-scandal was the final nail in the coffin. You think GB would have done more than pay lip service to the idea of lining up Darrell Scott with a fullback and running downhill? Oh man, Chris Brown all over again!

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